Monday, December 19, 2016

Lufthansa Business Class

Route: Frankfurt to Vancouver
Class: Business (upgrade)
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Flight time: 10 hours
When: 1 Nov 2016
Verdict: A good business class, efficient and friendly service, nice cabin, food spartan but adequate.

The trip commenced in the Business Lounge in Frankfurt, with an assortment of
meatballs, mushroom soup and good Austrian white- and Italian red wine. Being in transit, I even had time for a shower and to send off some emails before boarding.

The shower rooms were managed by a rather stern female staff member who insisted on minute details of my flight numbers, name, departure time, time of entering the cubicle and much more. The strangest part of the shower was that it switches off every 10 or 15 seconds - my guess is the genius who designed this unique and most absurd water-saving measure never had to use it him/herself. In addition, shower users are not allowed to sit on the little bench inside the shower room, just in case they are hoping to sit down while putting on socks, shoes and tying shoelaces.

Arriving at the gate, we were held up for another 45 minutes due to the late arrival of our aircraft and had to wait inside a very crammed waiting area. I refused to enter this overcrowded circus, together with a few other wary passengers. We soon realized that it was much more convenient to wander around the terminal, go for a Starbucks coffee or browse the bookstore, than to fight with another 350 passengers for air and space in an overcrowded boarding area. This did not discourage the very persistent gate personnel from trying to entice us to enter the boarding area, using evil looks and often-repeated threats/announcements - something along the lines of "meinen damen und herren, ze plane will depart without you". I ignored them of course, and walked through the boarding gates when they finally began the boarding process.   

Champagne was served before take-off and lunch was adequate, but nothing more. Starters consisted of Venision, prawn and Mozzarella salads. I ordered the red "Austrian Blaufrankisch Hochberg Weingut Juliana Wieder", probably the longest name that I ever saw on a wine label. But it was really good, considering the vines were 25 years old and spent plenty of time in traditional oak casks. I decided upon the Salmon for my main course, but after I had a brief whiff of my neighbour's aromatic, roasted goose, I changed my selection and this was promptly agreed to by the air hostess.

The aroma was better than the actual meal, insofar it was dry and tough. That was followed by a cheese platter, Port and coffee. We were offered a light snack before landing, together with some wine.  

I normally sleep poorly on planes, but I must admit that once my seat was transformed into an almost 2-m-long, fully flat bed, I had no problem falling asleep for an hour or two, in between watching a few movies. The seat adjusted relatively easily once you got the hang of it. Strangely, there are never any readily available instructions on how operate these rather complex seats or how to lift out the tricky seat table.

The business class cabin on the main deck is configured in a 2-2 layout in the front
half, while in the back half it is a 2-3-2 layout. Lufthansa's unfortunate decision to add a third seat in the middle row, has the potential to cause great discomfort for the poor unsuspecting middle passenger, considering he/she paid a business class fare.

The business seats have large TV screens with a limited selection of movies in English. The movie selection hardly changed within one month, even between the business and premier economy class selecion.

Lufthansa's business class was voted 10th best in the world in 2016 in the Skytrax World Airline Awards, with Qatar being at number one. Lufthansa was beaten by Air France (9th), but it edged out British Airways. To be frank, having flown BA, Air France, Lufthansa and Ethiopian business classes over the past few years (mostly through free upgrades), I would vote for Ethiopian as top choice among these four, as long as it is not on their very outdated Boeing 767s.